Jan 27, 2009

Cultivating the Community

Hi Challenge Participants!
I'll take a moment to introduce myself, but first need to Thank You all for your commitments to this project. Unfortunately many of you I've yet to meet - as the Challenge Coordinator I was busy at the Launch and Panel Discussion upstairs while Alice signed you up at the Info Booth. When you return your filled in Commitment Card I'll be happy to meet you and hear about your ideas (and criticisms!) for the Buy Local Challenge.
I'm Devin - the Info Booth and Curiosity Coordinator at the Wolfville Farmers' Market. When singing up up for this job I was given the task of supporting market goers so that they more easily could choose locally produced options. We set up the info booth, distributed info pieces, and tried to be friendly and inviting so you would all flock to me to ask questions and hold conversations about the Market and other places to buy local. Quickly I realized that information was not what was most needed! The market going community was well informed and passionate - and curious! When asked, you told me there was a range of reasons you didn't buy locally produced products as often as you said you would like to - accessibility, cost, and familiarity were all mentioned, as well as the skills it takes to prepare whole foods, time pressures around shopping and cooking, and family preferences. Each person I talked with sited a unique mix of barriers to shopping in line with their values around local products. I decided it was time to change the approach - and plan some way to support market goers that's more meaningful, useful, and fun. Enter the idea for the Buy Local Challenge - which is not mine, originally, of course. Many groups have come before and shown how coordinating a group of like minded participants is an interesting and successful way to support individuals who would like to change their habits.
What is the Buy Local Challenge? Let me define it by offering a list of what it is NOT.
  • The Buy Local Challenge is not about changing people's values or converting uninterested shoppers; the Challenge is about bringing like minded people together to share resources, learn skills, and offer support within a community setting.
  • The Buy Local Challenge is not a 100 Mile Diet program (unless that's what you want to challenge yourself to accomplish!) We heard from Market Goers that a commitment that deep was unattainable, or unattractive to most - even if we were all excited by the possibility of only eating local food. Each Challenge Participant is asked to choose the intensity of commitment that suits their lifestyle and goals.
  • The Buy Local Challenge is not only about food; a vibrant local economy requires a variety of products and services are offered, as well as a healthy level of civic engagement. I want to live in a community full of artists, trades people, crafts people, shop keepers, teachers, learners, leaders, children, service providers, AND farmers. As consumers we have the power to support these, and may more, types of activity.
  • The Buy Local Challenge is not a list of activities the Wolfville Market is asking you to accomplish over the next 12 months. We've designed the Challenge so that each Participant selects only the ideas and commitments he or she embraces. The list we wrote up should only serve as inspiration. Decide for yourself what you want to accomplish! Share the commitments you make with us so that we can offer you support, and celebrate with you when you succeed.
In case you're curious, my family and I are signing on as well. My experience with local products is broad - I grew up in a family of trades people, near a town filled with artists, and digging in a backyard garden. While studying Environmental Science at Acadia I was often distracted by teaching friends to eat well, and cheaply (which usually meant in season), exploring the products, services, and adventures available within walking distance of the university, reading and talking about how global and local issues intersect, and working at local farms and restaurants. My family consists of two adults, one toddler, and a couple of cats. We've just found our first home and have grand plans for raised vegetable and flower gardens, a coop full of happy chickens, and rooms made homey with locally produced objects that bring practicality, beauty, and stories. We love to entertain and realize how important it is to prepare meals everyone can enjoy and leave time in our evenings to eat together.
My plan for this blog is that stories, ideas, and resources will be shared between Challenge Participants. I will limit myself to posting resources and relevant events, as well as "how we're doing" updates, summarizing the collected successes of the Challenge Community. This is because I'm long winded (as you may have noticed : ) and because I'm very interested in hearing what you have to offer. If you're eager to join the blogging group and share your story over the next 12 months, visit me at the Wolfville Farmers' Market Info Booth, or email me at devin_folks@hotmail.com. Please also feel free to send me bits of interesting info I can post on your behalf.
Thank You all, again, for Challenging yourselves!
ps - You may or may not know, the Buy Local Challenge has attracted support from Select Nova Scotia (this means our tax dollars!) We've agreed to share the strong and weak points of the project as it progresses so that we can build a plan other groups could use to host their own Buy Local Challenge. Your experiences are not only interesting to us, at the Market, and to the government initative that has offered support, but to other Markets, associations, and companies who want to support and engage their communities toward buying local. We're happy to protect your privacy and keep your comments anonymous.

Jan 23, 2009

all sorts of local : Pia Skaarer-Nielsen's contribution to the Panel Discussion at the Launch

Hi All, here is my statement from Saturday, I would like to thank as I did then all the producers of good and healthy food, right from the farm, from the market or enjoyed at a restaurant for all the good work that they do. It is a special to eat local good food. And next, my statement as an artist and a fellow producer of other goods, all woven and felted.
(The photo at the right is of the beautiful fiber Pia created for us to use in the "ribbon cutting" during the Buy Local Challenge Launch - DLF)

Living where we do, gives us rich possibilities not only for supporting the local food growers and gain more awareness about good living and eating habits.
There is another very important side of this equation and it has to do with the creativity and energy of all the many artisans and hand crafters whom we are surrounded by in this part of the world.

If one wanted to really take on the buy local challenge I would like to make everyone aware that we have an ample chance here, in this town, in this valley, in this province to get all our needs for 'stuff' covered by local 'producers' .
On a single day at the market you are able to fulfill your dreams and needs with anything from water fountains to nose warmers – yes, nose warmers!
We have people designing and sewing clothes here, putting together outdoor benches of recycled wood and soft and smooth wooden indoor furniture, there are blankets and wraps for getting dressed up, yarn from local sheep to knit your own winter socks – all grown, nurtured and sold here – recently I even met a shoemaker at the market – a candle maker is also around, with beautiful bees wax candles, there are lavender oils and cd's by local musicians – in fact you actually have all the essentials for a comfortable and delightful life.
Granted there are times when you do have to pay a little more for the very personal expertise that artisans put into their work and pieces, however, their aim is for you to have your purchases for years and years to come, not for your special buy to be obsolete by the end of the season or this year's fashion trend.
There are other places to support your local artisans. When we chat with you and hand you our business card, hold on to it and give us a call. It is not necessary to only come see us at the market. Many of us have studios where we work, some of us you can drop in on, others prefer to get a call, and none of us will turn you away if you are on a serious mission for finding a special gift for yourself or someone you love. Place a special commission, conspire with the artisan to have your dreams and wishes come true in a piece which you have dreamt of for years.
If you don't fancy going out into studios but prefer to buy in 'public' spaces, there are plenty of very well reputed galleries around in any small town you come through here in NS. The local artisans have their wares for sale there, and while you won't have a chance to talk to the person with the hands who did the creation, at least you will be able to talk to a gallery owner or manager who is proud and excited to represent the artists whose work is exhibited in their gallery.
We would love to not have to rely so hard on the tourist season being up to everyone's expectations – we would love to see that a bigger portion of our yearly income, however big or small, would come from people with whom we share our communities – purchasing locally produced hand work and art makes sense as much as buying locally produced beef and vegetables. When we support local production of any kind we help keep our communities vibrant and self sustaining.

Remember not only art or hand made work from away is exciting – look at Nistal's beautiful sculptures at Harvest Gallery in Wolfville and feel the thrill.

The Buy Local Challenge has been launched!

The Buy Local Challenge is an invitation to individuals to spend twelve months building knowledge, skills, healthy habits, and enthusiasm for locally produced products while supporting those who produce them.

The local area is brimming with fabulously fresh products and ideas. As a consumer, choosing the local option more often is a vote for community vibrancy.

Make some commitments and the Wolfville Farmers' Market will offer resources, hosts opportunities to build skills and will share success stories with a group of challenge participants.

Sign on any Saturday in 2009, at the Wolfville Farmer's Market Info Booth

Step 1: Sign On!

  • Ask about the Buy Local Challenge at the Wolfville Farmers' Market Info Booth.
  • Register to participate, by filling out insert and paying $5.
  • Receive canvas shopping bag,the challenge card (page 1, page 2) , a button and a resource kit that will be updated seasonally.
  • Fill out the the challenge card; which includes picking from a list of possible commitments.
  • Hand in your challenge card at the Market Information Booth.

Step 2 : Work Toward Success!

  • Put forward your best effort to meet your commitments.
  • Each Season the Info Booth Coordinator will: invite you to evaluate the changes you have made (you might be surprised!). Take this opportunity to track your success and adjust your commitments.
  • Each season you will be invited to attend Buy Local Challenge Workshop Events ($5 for those registered with Challenge). Build skills and knowledge at the workshops and meet other challenge participants.

Step 3: How did it go?

  • After 12 months of challenging yourself, make a final evaluation of the changes you have achieved.
  • Help us to evaluate the Buy Local Challenge by filling out an anonymous survey.

Resource Package includes:

  • Canvas Shopping Bag
  • Buy Local Challenge Button
  • In-Season Fruit and Veggie Calendar
  • Meat at the Market Guide
  • Market Map
  • Guides to where locally produced products can be found
  • ... and more, plus seasonal updates

4 Seasonal Workshops:

Sunday, March 29th: Gardening Workshop
Sunday, June 28th: Seasonal Eating
Sunday, September 20th: Preserving Food
Sunday, November 15th: Gifting Locally